Every week or so, I post a decorated envelopes tutorial on the TPK Facebook page. I love the fact that Facebook provides an effective and casual platform to showcase information! That said, I know that it is impossible to “pin” from Facebook, some readers may not have a Facebook account, and you may just miss the posts due to life happening. For that reason, I like to round up some of the Facebook mini-tutorials every so often and post them on the TPK blog! Here are three of my favorite decorated envelopes from the past couple of months:
1. Geographical Decorated Envelopes
The geographical decorated envelope concept centers around the recipient’s location. Bright watercolors, streaks of paint, and splotches lend artistic interest to the piece!
To make an envelope like this one, begin by printing out a small outline of your recipient’s country or state (you’ll be able to find an outline using Google image search). The outline should be no more than 3 inches (76.2 mm) wide, and no more than 4.75″ (120.65 mm) tall if you’re using an A7 envelope. You can manipulate the size of the outline in Adobe Photoshop before you print. Once the outline has been printed, cut it out such that it’s contained in a small rectangle, like the piece of paper shown on the left below. Tuck the outline into a white envelope, and use a light box or a bright window to trace around it in pencil. Next, use waterproof black ink to draw over your pencil lines, then fill the outline in with watercolor paint. While the paint is still wet, blow on it to create paint streaks (as described in the Artistic Ornaments-Themed DIY Christmas Card Tutorial), and use your paintbrush to flick paint droplets all over the envelope.
Next, use a pencil to draw a series of evenly-spaced wavy guidelines that run parallel to each other. You can just free-hand draw these lines; they don’t need to be perfect! Calligraph the address on the lines in any calligraphy style and with any ink that you prefer; I’m using Janet Style calligraphy and iron gall ink in the photo below.
Don’t forget to include your return address somewhere on the envelope! In the photo below, I have written my address in all-lowercase Kaitlin Style calligraphy. I like using Kaitlin Style on decorated envelopes because it’s quick and easy!
Finally, find some stamps that correspond with the color scheme of your watercolor state or country, and apply them to the upper right corner of the envelope. Voilà! You’ve made a one-of-a-kind, artistic envelope that’s ready to travel anywhere domestically or internationally.
If you’re interested in making an envelope like this one, here is a list of the materials I used:
- Royal Sundance envelope (item #0372500 at Neenah Paper, under the “Envelopes” tab)
- Greenleaf & Blueberry watercolor paints
- Ziller “Soot Black” ink (to outline the country)
- Iron Gall ink (to write the address)
2. Chic “Product Packaging” Decorated Envelopes
Have you ever purchased something from a boutique store and loved the packaging it came in? If so, you’ll love the “Product Packaging” decorated envelope concept! This envelope is reminiscent of a thoughtful little boutique package tied up with twine and finished with a minimalist product label sticker!
First, choose (or make) a neutral-colored envelope. The envelope should be dark enough for white paint to show up on it, but light enough for pencil marks to show up as well. Next, use white calligraphy ink or white paint to draw two lines — both 3-4 mm wide — on the front of the envelope: one line should cross through the middle of the envelope horizontally, and the other should cross through the middle of the envelope vertically. Once the white paint dries, use a pencil to draw small, diagonal lines over the paint as pictured below.
Continue to draw small diagonal lines over the white paint. You don’t need to draw diagonal lines toward the center of the envelope because your “product label” address will cover up that part anyway! Once you are finished drawing the lines, you can add some shadows to create the illusion of depth and make the paint look like real twine. You’ll notice in the photo below that shadows have been drawn in to the right of the vertical line and to the bottom of the horizontal line.
Flip the envelope over, and paint the same two white lines (one vertical, one horizontal). Where the lines meet in the middle, paint two wavy ovals and two short, wavy lines to make a bow. Once the paint has dried, draw short, diagonal pencil lines on the white paint (like you did on the front of the envelope). Then, draw in shadows. Shadows should appear to the right of vertical lines and to the bottom of horizontal lines. As far as the bow is concerned, the two ovals are in the horizontal line category, and the two wavy lines are in the vertical line category; you can add shadows to them accordingly!
Next, cut out a white piece of paper for the “product label” address. The paper should be about 3.25″ (82.55 mm) wide by 2.75″ (69.85 mm) tall. On that piece of paper, you can draw a little “logo” at the top that incorporates the first letter of the recipient’s last name. You can see in the photo below that I just drew a simple “S” and made a series of dots around it! Draw a line under the “logo”, then write the recipient’s name in the calligraphy style of your choice (I used Kaitlin Style), and write their address in Sans Serif lettering under the name. Finish up by adding another straight horizontal line under the address!
Once the ink has dried, brush glue on the back of the “product label” address, and center it on the front of the envelope. Make sure everything is glued down well; otherwise, the sorting machine at the post office may catch on the label! Add a single stamp to the upper right corner, and your envelope is ready to send!
If you’re interested in creating a similar envelope, here are the materials I used:
- Envelope from Two Hands Paperie in Boulder; Two Hands does not sell envelopes online, but Paper Source offers some great substitutes! Colors that would work for these decorated envelopes include: Blossom, Coral, Poppy, Curry, Sunshine, Chartreuse, Mint, Sage, Plum, and Paper Bag.
- 70 lb. Drawing Paper
- Black Bombay Ink
Black Bird Decorated Envelopes
This concept uses a black bird silhouette to lend contrast and drama to the envelope! The recipient’s name and address is written in white ink directly on the bird, and branches with leaves are added in afterward to visually balance things out.
Lay the bird template over a kraft-colored envelope (any other neutral-toned envelope would work as well), and use it as a stencil for black acrylic paint.
Once the paint has dried (~10 minutes), write over the silhouette using the white calligraphy ink of your choice. I like to write out addresses using Kaitlin Style calligraphy, but any lettering or calligraphy style would look great here!
When you finish writing the calligraphy, add some stamps to the upper right corner, then draw a branch and some leaves under the bird using a waterproof black ink such as Ziller. Fill in the branch and leaves with watercolor or McCaffery’s ink to give the envelope a little bit of color!
Once you finish painting the branch and leaves, the piece is finished!
You can adapt this concept to fit whatever materials you have on hand, but if you’re curious, here are the materials that I used:
- “Paper Bag” A7 envelope from Paper Source
- Apple Barrel black acrylic paint
- Dr. Ph. Martin’s Pen White ink
- Ziller “Soot Black” ink
- McCaffery’s inks in brown and green
I hope you enjoyed these mini-tutorials, and that you will use them for mail art inspiration! I do want to point out that for each of these envelopes, I wrote the return address on the back. This is not conventional practice in the US, but I have never encountered an issue because of it. All three of these pieces were safely delivered! However, if you are concerned about your decorated envelopes not being delivered, you can write your return address on the front — it shouldn’t take away from the beauty of the piece. 🙂
Thanks so much for reading TPK; I really appreciate that you are here! Enjoy the rest of your day, and we’ll reconvene this weekend!